East of Puerto Plata
Cabarete long ago stole the crown of tourism capital of the north coast – here you can fill your days with surfing and mountain biking but still dig into great seafood at a beachside restaurant. Sosúa, Cabarete’s seedier neighbor, has a pretty beach, and a good selection of restaurants and hotels.
If you came to Jamaica looking to find a party and lose your inhibitions, look no further than Negril, 81km west of Montego Bay. At night, reggae and dancehall parties thump their tunes across the beach; by day, thousands fall in love with Negril’s insouciance and scintillating 11km-long beach sliding gently into calm waters that reflect a palette of light blues and greens.
Just when the glossy mags started touting the Out Islands as ‘in,’ the Ministry of Tourism slapped a new label on them and confused the issue. In order to highlight the slower pace and small-town values of the islands scattered beyond New Providence and Grand Bahama, they’re now also marketed as ‘the Family Islands.
When you see a Nathan’s hot dog vendor on the beach and groups of men going orgasmic when the New York Giants make a three-yard gain, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in New York, albeit a much warmer version. Indeed it is Americans from the east coast fleeing winter that make Aruba the most touristed of the ABCs.
Antigua & Barbuda
On Antigua, life is a beach. It may seem like a cliché, but this improbably shaped splotch of land is ringed with beaches of the finest white sand, made all the more dramatic by the azure waters, which are so clear they’ll bring a tear to your eye or a giggle to your holiday-hungry throat. And if life on Antigua is a beach, its isolated neighbor Barbuda is a beach.
Put the tourists of Trinidad in a room and you’ll have an awkward party: on one side will be wallflower bird-watchers tangled in camera and binocular straps; and on the other – the side with the bar – you’ll have the party-hound Carnival fans turning up the music and trying on their spangly costumes.
To most of the world, Grand Cayman is the Cayman Islands, a glitzy shopping mecca and global financial center where five-star hotels line the fabulous white-sand Seven Mile Beach and the wealthy from around the world spend time sipping cocktails and discreetly playing with their millions.
Who needs Red Bull when there’s downtown Nassau? This cacophonous blur of bouncing jitneys, hustling cabbies, bargaining vendors, trash-talking pirates and elbow-knocking shoppers is a guaranteed pick-me up for even the sleepiest of cruise-ship day-trippers. And it’s been luring high-energy hustlers for centuries.